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Posted: January 7, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Faith-based recovery group celebrates a decade

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program for "hurts, habits, and hang-ups," marks its 10th anniversary at Eastridge Community Church at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13.

The program’s co-founder, John Baker, will be at the meeting.

"I’m going to speak for a few minutes that night and tell people how proud I am of them," said Baker. "We’ll also look at the next 10 years. I expect to see a lot of people celebrating."

Celebrate Recovery began 20 years ago at Saddleback Church in Southern California, when Baker, a recovering alcoholic, shared with Pastor Rick Warren about the need for a Christ-centered recovery program. Warren and Baker started Celebrate Recovery, and it is now in 19,000 churches worldwide. Baker heads the ministry on an international level.

The ministry began in Newton County when pastors at Eastridge Community Church picked up a startup kit at a Saddelback conference.

Brad and Renee Rutledge helped launch the ministry, and they have since become full-time staff at the church. He is Pastor of Celebrate Recovery and Celebrate Recovery’s Southeast Regional Director, while she directs the ministry at Eastridge.

Unlike other 12-step programs, Celebrate Recovery places Jesus Christ and Biblical principles at the center of recovery. The program is not just for those recovering from drug or alcohol dependency. The ministry looks at the causes of addiction and hurt and shows how to overcome them through Christ.

"The truth is, less than a quarter of our participants struggle with the addictions," said Renee Rutledge. "Celebrate Recovery is for anyone who struggles with a hurt, habit or hang-up. The feeling of being hurt is an emotional reaction to another person’s behavior or to a situation, such as abandonment, abuse, divorce, rejection, unfaithfulness of a spouse, codependency, or grief. A habit is an addiction to someone or something: alcohol, drugs, food, pornography, shopping, cutting, stealing, or people. Hang-ups are negative mental attitudes that are used to cope with people or hardship, such as anger, depression, fear, shame, unforgiveness, prejudices, ungratefulness or being negative. As you can see, we deal with any and every struggle that everyone deals with."

Celebrate Recovery launched at Eastridge in January 2001 with 27 in attendance. The program meets Thursdays and now serves 294 in step study groups and children and student ministries.

First Baptist Church in Covington launched a Celebrate Recovery in 2009 that meets on Mondays. Oxford’s Crosspointe Baptist Church began Celebrate Recovery in October. The group meets Tuesdays.

"Celebrate Recovery taught us both to rely on Christ for all of our needs," said Mandy Corley, who, with her husband, Jason, leads the ministry at Crosspointe. "We are forever grateful for this program and felt the call to have one at our home church. We are excited about what God will do through Celebrate Recovery at Crosspointe."

Rutledge says she has seen many lives rescued from despair and broken marriages restored. The program has led 323 people to become part of the Eastridge church family.

"Women trapped in codependency find freedom in setting healthy boundaries with their family members. Men trapped in sexual addiction find freedom in accountability, the process of forgiveness, and overcoming the past," said Rutledge. "God transforms lives through Celebrate Recovery and gives us a purpose."

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